Old Gramma Little Walker spoke
little English. The charm of the old ones allowed them to communicate
without it. Their ways were special and pleasant. Their soft voices and
aware expressions brought them to an understanding with anyone they
happened to chose to share their time and experience. As she walked into
the hospital room of the Gabriel, a young woman, she did so as quietly as
a child enters the presence of a grown up.
"Hello Gramma!" The
young woman spoke to her. She spoke with the knowledge the very elderly
woman would probably not answer her with words. Sure enough the frail
little woman simply lifted her arm and hand onto the girls bed and patted
the place beside her leg. The younger one went ahead speaking to her in
the English language, not knowing what tribe she was since the Indian
hospital where they both were served a number of different people.
The little woman reached down
to the chair where the girl's moccasins were setting. As she picked one up
there was a satisfied pleasure in her expressions. She turned them this
way and that to examine the workmanship, the beadwork, and their soft
texture. Certainly, she had made it plain she liked the shoes. As was
their way, she turned her head and didn't look directly at the girl, but
to some far off distant place.
Gabriel wondered what vision
she was seeing. Where were her thoughts turned? Was she looking to seeing
her future in another far off land?
As if to answer her the little
delicate person turned her attention to the girl. She rubbed her hand over
the moccasins with one more lingering touch, smiled directly to the girl
and set them back in place.
Now, I must tell you, there is
a custom among the people of our tribe. If someone likes some possession
you own, dearly, lovingly, completely, sincerely likes the object then it
is one's obligation to give that object to the person. Whether the custom
holds true with the Pawnee tribe of which this woman was associated is not
Days progressed and the two
women of spring and winter were to share moments together. They were not
able to communicate as far as language was concerned but there was
something more rare and precious to their relationship. The elderly woman
was somehow or another drawn to the young woman and the young woman was as
equally satisfied with her companionship.
Soon the time came for Gabriel
to leave and as Gramma Little Walker came to her room while she was
packing her things, the young woman stopped for a moment. She picked up
the expensive moccasins and handed them to her new acquaintance.
"Take these Gramma." "I want you to have them."
"They were meant for you anyway." "I don't ever wear
Gramma smiled such a gentle,
sweet, loving, smile as she reached out to accept the moccasins. A little
tear trickled down the side and out of her eye.
"No, No, Gramma."
"Don't do that." However, Gabriel felt the same way. They were
from different tribes and different areas. They probably, would never see
each other again.
A few year passed. Gabriel was
back in the hospital for a tonsillectomy. The misery of the sore throat
made her feel if she could just have some apricot juice she could feel
"Do you think there is
any possible way I could have some apricot juice?" Gabriel asked one
of the nurses. She knew it was an Indian hospital and there probably
wasn't a chance of it, but, nevertheless, she asked.
"I doubt it." The
nurse was honest. "I will see what I can do."
In a little while a tray was
brought to her bed and in the middle was a lonely little glass of apricot
juice. The taste was wonderful, Gabriel thought. Just as she was finishing
the juice a dark swarthy young man dressed in white hospital garb came
into her room.
"Enjoy your juice?"
"Oh! I really did."
"My throat feels so much better." "I really didn't expect
to get any, though."
The man smiled and said,
"I went to town and bought it myself."
"Oh my!" He had
Gabriel's attention. "I didn't mean for you to do that."
"It was my
pleasure," He said. "You remember the little Pawnee woman you
gave the moccasins." "That was my mother." "We buried
her last summer." "She requested she be buried in them, and this
Gabriel had very deep feeling
about what he told her but she couldn't voice them. It was her turn to
allow a tear to slip from the side of her eye, where upon the young man
smiled to her and said,
"Well, you know the Ponca
and the Pawnee are old enemies." "We used to steal your
"But this time, you stole
my Mom's heart." With that he smiled and waved to her as he left her
alone to think about the time she had shared with the quiet, little woman
who was his Mother.